Supply Chain Problems & How We’re Overcoming Them
Since the summer of 2021, there have been widespread supply chain problems across the UK and globally. The evolution of this crisis is complex, from delayed deliveries to higher pricing, gaps on the supermarket shelves and empty petrol stations. The media have focused on sporadic shortages such as petrol or toilet paper, affecting people both locally and nationally.
Whilst global retail eCommerce site traffic spiked during the peak of the virus; surging global demand met with unavoidable supply chain problems meant not all businesses were this fortunate.
Causes of the UK Supply Chain Problems
As the UK has said its goodbyes to the EU, the availability of workers has taken a hit as it has become increasingly difficult for UK firms to recruit from anywhere in Europe. To add, the recent HMRC changes are also causing further delays. At the end of the transition period, the free movement of people was replaced with a points-based immigration system that determined whether or not people could enter the country. And with Brexit comes these supply chain problems.
EU nationals are now treated the same way as non-EU nationals, meaning that conditions such as English language skills and salary thresholds have to be met to obtain a legitimate work visa. Sectors such as agriculture, food manufacturing, and haulage, which have historically employed large quantities of EU nationals, have found it difficult to find replacements. According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), between the 20th and 31st of October, 17% of adults in Great Britain experienced shortages of essential food items during the fuel crisis.
Meanwhile, stocks in shops and warehouses have slumped to their lowest levels since 1983. Some 70,000 pigs are stranded on farms as there isn’t enough capacity to transport and process them due to the shortfall in the number of UK lorry drivers needed to get goods and materials moving. A part of this is due to the high number of EU drivers leaving the country since Brexit, with the majority not making a return.
Yes, the UK’s situation has been tough with the plight of EU workers after Brexit, but filling those vacancies long-term will depend on better training, pay and conditions for UK workers – or “leveling up”, as the Government might say.
On top of Brexit, the pandemic has exacerbated staff shortages across the UK. Large numbers of EU nationals working in the UK before the end of the Brexit transition moved back to their countries of origin soon after the beginning of the pandemic. And after time, new travel restrictions, costs, and bureaucracy associated with international travel during the pandemic were implemented and likely the cause for employment drops.
As well as this, the pandemic disrupted vocational training in various sectors, which essentially reduced the inflow of newly qualified staff. One example of this is the DVLA’s (The Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency) decision to suspend countless tests for new lorry drivers to be officially licensed. This has directly impacted UK supply chain problems in that fewer drivers mean fewer deliveries.
But the supply chain problem goes well beyond lorry drivers. There are labour shortages throughout food production, distribution, hospitality and construction across the UK. Companies are finding that the speed of reopening, rehiring and restocking after long lockdowns have also created similar shortages. This applies to the numbers of staff that have had to self-isolate under Covid restrictions – and even today, although current rules are less strict towards self-isolation, high rates of Covid infections are causing staff absences.
Structural Issues in the Economy
Whilst COVID-19 and Brexit have contributed to these supply chain problems, they have also exposed structural issues in labour supply in some sectors.
This included a failure to attract and retain HGV drivers, leaving the UK short of at least 100,000 truckers and the fragility of a ‘just in time’ manufacturing system unable to absorb the shock of delays and interruptions to supplies. With a system that is yet to fully recover from the supply chain problems in the latter half of 2021, this leaves the UK vulnerable to difficulties caused by the global effects of the Omnicron variant.
KlearNow vs. Supply Chain Problems
We are aware of these supply chain problems, which is why, we are striving to continuously improve your day-to-day work environment by offering a solution that will enhance the efficiency, visibility and productivity of your supply chains. Our solution is to leverage our technology in your logistics strategies. But what is the importance of modernising these processes?
“The collapse of the global supply chain has really shown how fragile and manual and less sophisticated tools are being deployed when there is a need for global competitiveness. The only way to overcome some of those bottlenecks is through digital transformation and technology. From automation, shipping processes and customs clearance, to the digitisation of other elements of the process, we are turning a very archaic component into something that is more efficient and fast than what it is today.” Pat Cooney, Chief Revenue Officer at KlearNow
With everything that’s happened in the world and the British economy, it’s only safe to assume that things won’t magically change overnight. Companies that aren’t adopting a digital supply chain structure are going to struggle to alleviate these issues, ultimately losing their competitiveness.
Leading the Fight Using Tech
When it comes to data handling, many companies are still using spreadsheets to share information. But with the KlearNow software, we specialise in a one-point solution, where data is all held in one cloud-based software. Whether you deal in imports or exports, it’s easy.
Our cloud-based platform allows easy deployment of your services quickly in just a few clicks, meaning you can access your resources anywhere quickly and efficiently. Especially with the shortages in food and manufacturing, our smart Logistics as a Service (LaaS) software breaks down silos between organisations, data and processes. But what about inbound manufacturing?
Pat Cooney highlights: “we create very early upstream visibility, down to the container or SKU level, giving visibility. This allows the supply chain expert and the directors of manufacturing to do a better job of planning their workforce and production line scheduling. Everyone has a deadline with part shortages – what do I have, and where is it? There has never been a bigger demand for ‘where is my stuff now’ and that’s what we bring. We give them real-time visibility, and we answer the question of ‘when will it get here’ to help improve labour and manufacturing efficiencies.”
Helping You Deal with Future Supply Chain Problems
Inevitably, we can never be sure of what will happen and to what extent supply chain problems will persist. As with these recent events, it is likely that disruption will vary between sectors and fluctuate over time. Digitization and collaboration is the way forward and our smart Logistics as a Service (LaaS) platform can help you in this transformation journey.
We pride ourselves on always looking to be a step ahead. We listen to our customers’ feedback to help solve genuine problems. This has helped us design and scale our product and will continue to in the future. If we’ve caught your eye, you can request a demo or simply contact us, it’s simple. If you want to see more, you can check out our video below to get a gauge of how the software works and how we can help you alleviate your supply chain problems now and in the future.